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Being Flexible, Dangerous and Fascinating – Piper Perabo

Piper Perabo recently came to the Maggie Flanigan Studio to talk about her career and the important decision she made to stop working and enroll in the two year acting program.

I was on this movie in Mexico with this actor, Chama (José María Yazpik), who won the Ariel which is the Mexican Oscar. He has a really talented flexible, dangerous presence. He could take this script that was not interesting and make these amazing moments out of things that were so flat on the page.

Emotional Response Requires Training

Up until Chama I had thought your job was to enact the page or to serve the stage direction. The script was something that I was trying to show back at you. I thought I was supposed to act the script. Chama did not appear to be following the stage directions at all. He did not even care about the stage directions. His emotional response to moments seemed to come from some other place. They would give him a note and he could change just so seamlessly so beautifully and the whole thing would change.

I thought, “How is he doing that?” I knew him better, I was more friendly with him than other good actors that I worked with. Years before that I had worked with Guy Pierce, Christian Bale. Bale is very flexible but he is not a very social person. You can say to him “how are you doing that?” but that is really all. So with Chema I started talking with him about his process. “How do you do that? How do you change? What is going on with you?”and he said, “Oh, I trained.” So I thought, “I guess I should do this training.”

I knew Sam Rockwell. When I came back to the city and I thought of flexible actors that I had seen in the city so I said, “Where did you train?” and he told me about this studio. I spoke to a couple of other actor that I think are kind of fascinating and dangerous and flexible and Maggie’s name kept coming up.

So I came here and did the summer intensive and I learned so much in the six weeks that I stopped working for two years and did the program.

two year acting program - program in NYC for actors - piper perabo

Preparing for the Chaos at the Door

I write to Maggie letters and emails because I think about it all the time. I think about what I learned here, like that door, I think about that door, every door that I open whether I am coming in or going out. That door is like what you are expecting, how you are preparing to come through the door. You are going to do that a million times. So how you prepare to come through the door and then to say “f*%^& it”.

You cant imagine how much noise and how much chaos and how many things are working against you being able concentrate. You have to know how to work preparing at the door because literally minutes before you come through the door in the scene people are asking questions, the light falls down, the guy who you are in the scene with is texting someone, there is so much chaos. Then all of your preparation, you throw it out, ground your breath and you go and see what happens. Just those few things. If you do that it gets so exciting and dangerous – I say dangerous, I mean in a good way.

For more information about the two year acting program and how you can schedule an interview, visit the studio website or call the studio directly (917) 794-3878

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